Sales of the new Mitsubishi Space Star started 18 September in the Netherlands, 10 days before its public launch at the Paris auto show. Sales in other European markets will follow this autumn, beginning in the south.
German customers will have to wait until February and right-hand drive markets wait until spring.
'We are targeting southern European countries with some priority, since our sales have been relatively weak in this region,' said Katsumi Suzuki, vice president for sales at Mitsubishi Motor Sales Europe, in Amsterdam.
Space Star is taller than a station wagon, but it is not an MPV, says Mitsubishi.
'We would rather call it an evolutionary hatchback concept,' said a Mitsubishi representative. Other Mitsubishi sources refer to the car's 'semi-tall profile.'
The Space Star is based on a modified version of the Mitsubishi Carisma and Volvo S40/V40 platform. It is being built at NedCar, the Volvo-Mitsubishi joint venture in the Netherlands. NedCar installed a separate assembly line because the Space Star differs too much from S40/V40 and Carisma.
NedCar produces over 130,000 S40/V40 models and 90,000 Carismas. It plans to build 15,000 Space Stars this year, eventually achieving annual production of 50,000.
Suzuki said the German market might take 10,000 Space Stars annually.
The target in Holland, a 'home country' for Mitsubishi because of the NedCar plant, is 5,000. France and the UK are expected to take 'several thousand.'
When it was introduced at the Geneva auto show in March, the name was spelled as one word, 'Spacestar,' and it was considered a competitor to the Renault Megane Scenic. Now, said a spokesman, 'It has Space in its name, but it's not a space vehicle.'
Other Mitsubishi products are 'space' vehicles, referring to interior space. Suzuki said Mitsubishi is developing the Space Wagon, Space Runner and Space Gear for European markets.
An all new Space Wagon will make its European debut at the Paris auto show and will be followed next year by the shorter Space Runner.